Elon Musk Says SpaceX In "Genuine Risk Of Bankruptcy"
SpaceX, the space-tourism company that was supposed to make Elon Musk the first trillionaire, might be on the brink of bankruptcy.
In an internal letter sent to the SpaceX employees during Thanksgiving, obtained by Space Explored, Musk explained the dire situation that his high-flying space-tourism company is at a “genuine risk of bankruptcy.”
According to the communique, the production of the raptor engine is draining the company and therefore, SpaceX will have to launch one shuttle every couple of weeks to stay in business in the near future.
“Unfortunately, the Raptor production crisis is much worse than it had seemed a few weeks ago,” Musk said. “As we have dug into the issues following the exiting of prior senior management, they have unfortunately turned out to be far more severe than was reported. There is no way to sugarcoat this. We face genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year.”
The Raptor engine is being built for the Lunar Artemis project in which SpaceX is collaborating with NASA. The engine will power the Starship, which will take cargo and people to the Moon and Mars. While the Starship has taken multiple short test flights, for it to really make the jump to orbit, the Raptor engine is crucial. The Starship will require as many a 39 Raptor engines to run.
While the letter did put the workers under a lot of pressure, Musk himself is also not going to celebrate Christmas. He asked the employees to stay back during the holidays to work on the project, ensuring that he himself will also be with them on the Raptor line.
“Unless you have critical family matters or cannot physically return to Hawthorne, we will need all hands on deck to recover from what is, quite frankly, a disaster. I was going to take this weekend off, as my first weekend off in a long time, but instead, I will be on the Raptor line all night and through the weekend,” Musk wrote in the email.
The mail added more sense to the departure of former VP of Propulsion Will Heltsley, who left the company earlier this month. Heltsley was removed from the project shortly before his departure.
Apart from the Starship project, the mail also shed light on another super ambitious Starlink internet project. Musk said that though the V1 satellites are launched, they are not equipped with lasers. V2 satellites are going to have the lasers but they cannot be delivered by the present Falcon space shuttle.
Instead, Musk has sought the permission of the FCC to deliver the second-generation Starlink satellites on Starship rockets. So he wants to ramp up the production of Raptor engines to solve the problem.
“The consequences for SpaceX, if we can’t get enough reliable Raptors made, is that we then can’t fly Starship, which means we then can’t fly Starlink Satellite V2 (Falcon has neither the volume *nor* the mass to orbit needed for satellite V2). Satellite V1 by itself is financially weak, whereas V2 is strong,” said Musk.
This has somewhat been the pattern of Musk’s companies. Tesla also had its back against the wall during the production of Model 3. It is yet to be seen whether SpaceX can also bounce back in a similarly spectacular fashion as the EV company.
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